Men’s Ministry Fellowship
By David Boltem
The backbone of most activity programs for church youth are the regular fellowships. Most often they are held on Sunday nights after the preaching service, two to four times a month, and last about an hour. In the fall and winter, some churches switch to “after-the-game” fellowships following football and basketball games in the local high school. This combines the effort to provide wholesome activity for the church young people with the desire to minister to more non-church or unsaved teenagers. Sometimes churches have fellowships late Sunday afternoon before the young people’s hour, especially if younger teens are involved.
Fellowships are for the purpose of fellowship. They are distinguishable from parties, which have more varied and lengthy activities, and from youth meetings, which are for devotional or discussion purposes. Fellowships are informal, allowing much freedom to circulate with friends.
By their nature, fellowships have some limitations. One is time. An hour, minus fifteen minutes for refreshments and another five for a brief spiritual emphasis, does not lend itself to anything very involved. Whatever is done must be “instant fun,” because there is not time to stop and create atmosphere, or succeed by trial and error. Fellowships are also limited by clothing. Sunday night will find the group in school clothes – not too dressy, but certainly not right for anything very active. Money is also a factor. Fellowships happen pretty often, and generally are not in the budget. Food and entertainment are on a donation basis in most churches. It would be burdensome to make fellowships a major thing from week to week. Another consideration is activity appropriate to Sunday, if the fellowship is held on the Lord’s Day. Activities which require patronizing a place of business (bowling, miniature golf, going to a drive-in restaurant) are questionable for a church to sponsor on Sunday.
Besides limitations, fellowships have some hurdles to cross. Maybe it would be truer to say, some ruts to avoid. Anything which occurs regularly tends to acquire a sameness about it; it loses its vibrancy and freshness. Fellowships can become, “going to the same old houses to play the same old games and sing the same old” songs.” It takes planning to prevent this.
With all the limitations and problems, fellowships are a necessary and vital part of the life of the church youth group. Teenagers must belong to a group, and that group must have certain things it does together regularly – traditions which make the members a part of each other’s lives. This is acceptance, and it is one of the most important things in the development of any individual. (You can recall it in your own teen years.) Getting together on Sunday nights is something the church group does regularly. It serves much the same social need that gathering at the billiard hall or the drive-in does for some other groups. It keeps the group-feeling going between major events which they experience together.
Friendships are built on the way to, during, and on the way home from fellowships. Often these experiences are the first “dates” younger teens will have. It is wholesome and encouraging when best friends and dates are from within the church group at this impressionable age. Younger teens are panting for a place to go on their own. Parents will agree to a church activity, and both are satisfied. Older teens are eager to drive somewhere. Parents will let them have the car for a church fellowship, and everyone is pleased. Many teenagers will come to church at night just to be able to attend the fellowship, so great is the social need it meets. Gradually they may come to have more substantial values.
In short, young people may come away from a good fellowship saying, “I like my church and what it offers me in friendships.” This is one concept we want them to have, is it not?
The Youth Council can plan the fellowships, but it will create greater interest if the Sunday-night crowd does their own planning in accord with the calendar the Youth Council sets. This can be done once a quarter in the last half of a fellowship, over a bottle of cola and a donut. Draw the group, or a committee selected by the group if it is large, around in a circle. Offer some new ideas which might appeal to them. Let the group react and discuss together. Consider some of these ideas.
Fellowships In Different Homes
1. Choose a theme as you would for a party, and plan a simplified version. Make decorations simple and inexpensive. Play two games on the theme. (A “Computer Fellowship,” and a “Kid’s Party Fellowship,” are developed at the end of this chapter as examples.)
2. Vary the singspiration idea and have song sheets duplicated and the accompanist’s music ready. Try a Negro Spiritual Singspiration, a Favorite Choruses Singspiration, a Fun Songs Singspiration, a Round the World Singspiration, or an Americana Singspiration. (Suggestions for an American Singspiration are included in the “Beachside Wiener Roast Fellowship” later in the chapter.)
3. In nice weather have a Backyard Fellowship, and play dodgeball, Steal the Bacon, or another semi-active outdoor game. An outdoor singspiration with guitar accompaniment is effective.
4. Show home movies or slides of church activities in which the youth group has been involved. Old slides which date back to elementary-school days are hilarious to all but the victims!
5. Adapt the idea of a Think-nic, as presented in Chapter 10 on the summer program. This especially effective in a fellowship attended mainly by older youth.
6. Secure a tape recorder and let the group make a tape, either for pure fun, or to keep and play back in a couple of years, or to send to a friend who has moved away. (A Tape Recorder Fellowship” is developed later in the chapter.)
Fellowships At The Church
1. A closet full of equipment games (kept under lock), like checkers, chess, ping-pong, shuffleboard, box hockey, indoor horse-shoes and darts, allows everyone to choose something he enjoys and spread out in a large room.
2. On Sunday afternoon hide clues for a treasure hunt all over the church educational space. Not only will they enjoy the hunt, they will be intrigued by the fact that they overlooked the clues all evening!
3. Play active indoor games which cannot be played in a home: Jacob and Rachel, charades, stunts and relays.
4. Plan a variation of the old-fashioned box supper. Have each girl decorate a box and fill it with sandwiches and dessert for two people. Boys select a box without knowing its owner, and the two share its contents. The church may provide punch.
Fellowships In Other Places
1. If there is a beach or park nearby, have a wiener roast and sing around the fire. (See the “Beachside Wiener Roast Fellowship” included in this chapter.) Another time, have a watermelon feed instead of hot dogs.
2. On a special occasion, such as the evening of Youth Sunday or following an evangelistic campaign, have a testimonial service around the campfire, with simple refreshments. Allow time for good participation and interspersed singing. Ask three or four teens to prepare ahead and begin the sharing time while others are thinking.
3. Now and then it is fun to combine with another church for a fellowship. When this is done, make plenty of opportunity for the two groups to mix and make new friends. Choose games which have been proven successful in your group.
When several ideas for fellowships have been well received, ask the group to contribute others. Then begin to fill in a schedule upon which dates for fellowships have been written. “Which idea do you want to use for two weeks from tonight? Which for the first Sunday of next month?” When ideas are down, decide on .a place to have each. Remind each person who volunteers his home to check with his parents and confirm it with you.
Save room beside each fellowship idea for three people to sign up as a committee. These three will be responsible for carrying out plans and securing people to bring refreshments. If given help ahead, they may lead the fellowship, thereby gaining valuable skills in group leadership. In many instances the remainder of the planning can be handled by telephone, but if another meeting is needed you will know immediately from the schedule which individuals to call.
Kids’ Party Fellowship
Decorations: clusters of balloons which the guests may pop at the end of the fellowship.
Ice Breaker: Give each guest a piece of bubble gum or a penny lollipop upon arrival.
Informal Time: Have a selection of children’s activities around for each person to choose at random: coloring books, jacks, yoyos, tiddlywinks, jump rope, and marbles. Allow about fifteen minutes for this.
Group Games: Call everyone into a circle for a “Show and Tell.” Ask each one to tell what he has been doing or show his picture if he colored one. Then play Pin the Tail on the Donkey, drop clothespins into a milk bottle, or drop the handkerchief.
Refreshments: popcorn balls and lemonade; or animal crackers and hot cocoa.
Singspiration and Inspiration: Begin by singing children’s songs: “School Days,” “Comin’ Round the Mountain,” “The Bear Went over the Mountain,” “Row Your Boat,” etc. Switch to favorite choruses about Christian maturity: “Let the Beauty of Jesus,” “Every Day with Jesus,” “Things Are Different Now,” “Lead Me to Some Soul Today.” Close with a friendship circle and prayer.
Ice Breaker: On IBM cards or regular file cards, pen numbers of five or more digits. Pin one on each guest as he arrives. Guests go by numbers rather than names for the evening.
Analysis: Give to each guest a pencil and a file card. Ask him to record on the card his answers to the questions you will ask. He need only write the number of his answer.
1. As a person I am:
(1) quiet and shy
(2) an average talker
(3) quite a talker
2. I like people who are:
(1) not too talkative
(2) about average
(3) very outgoing
3. By myself I like to:
(2) listen to the radio
(4) make something
(5) play a musical instrument
4. With a friend I like to:
(1) play records
(2) attend a party
(3) watch a game
(4) go bowling
Put the number of each guest’s badge on his card and collect them in two stacks: boys and girls.
Refreshments: Serve anything, but bill it as “brainfood, guaranteed to raise the IQ.” During refreshments, a sponsor will take the two stacks of cards into another room and quickly match them as follows.
Matching Cards: Begin with the two stacks, boys and girls. Divide each into three stacks according to the answer to question 1. This will separate the girls into quiet, average and outgoing, and the boys similarly. Proceed to match the girls’ cards with those of the boys, putting cards which are identical, or very close, into pairs. Some will not match well enough to be put with anyone else’s; these are obviously too perfect to be matched!
Group Games: When the group reassembles, call out the numbers of boys and girls who match. Check the validity of the computer’s selections by playing a game which requires teamwork between the partners: Password or Match Game, are examples.
Inspiration: Ask a teenager to prepare ahead a short devotional about the parable of the talents, Matthew 25: 14-30. The idea of dedicating whatever one has been given in talents, possessions and opportunities to the work of the Lord will fit well with the theme of this fellowship.
Beachside Wiener Roast Fellowship
Transportation: Arrange for sponsors to drive as many cars as will be needed. Meet in a group and announce that you are going on a “Wild Goose Chase.” Keep the destination a secret. Give each carload a list of things to get on the chase: the comic section of today’s paper; the number of cars parked on the 800 block of Main Street; the number of windows on the west side of the high school; the name of a song played on the radio after 8:30 p.m. tonight; a can of sardines; etc. Tell each driver where the wiener roast is to be held so all cars will return to that location.
Send one or two sponsors ahead to the location to begin a fire.
Refreshments: Have a wiener and marshmallow roast, with bottled drinks as soon as all cars arrive. Let the groups compare to find which car arrived first with the complete list of facts and findings.
Campfire: Gather in a group for an Americana Singspiration. Be sure the leader has been given words ahead of time. A guitar may accompany the group. Song suggestions: “On Top of Old Smokey,” “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad,” “Yankee Doodle,” “Down in the Valley,” “Beautiful Dreamer,” “Clementine,” “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.”
Inspiration: Ask several to share something for which they are thankful tonight. Close with the chorus, “Thank You, Lord, for Saving My Soul.”
Tape Recorder Fellowship
Ice Breaker: Conceal a tape recorder in the room and let the microphone catch arrival banter and conversation. Play it back for the group once or twice.
Rehearse and Record: Try one of these ideas, but be sure to watch the time! Thirty minutes will be the limit in most situations.
1. Just for fun, assign each person a nursery rhyme to practice reading with exaggerated emphasis. Or work up skits dramatizing the rhymes. Another idea is to use a poem, like “Paul Revere’s Ride,” passing it on to another person for each stanza. Try to outdo each other in expression.
2. Plan a recording of your voices and thoughts to keep and play back at a special gathering in a year or two, such as a Graduation Night Party. Include group singing of some favorite hymn or choir arrangement. Let each person give his name and quote his favorite Scripture verse. Close with a duet or solo by a member of the group.
3. Plan a letter to a friend who has moved away or gone to college or military service. Begin with a song. Let friends say a few personal words and tell the news of the group. Close with a devotional talk by one of the teen-age leaders of the group.
Refreshments: As the group eats, play back the recording.
Inspiration: Play a pre-recorded devotional by a teenager unless the tape they have just done included a devotional.
This article “Men’s Ministry Fellowship” by David Boltem is excerpted from Men’s Ministry: Help With Specifics, 1987.